Boler’s introduction in Digital Media and Democracy discusses the media and its power to make things true. The three opening quotes offer three different takes on the state of current news outlets and technologies and misinformation being passed around even faster because of it.
However, with the increase in access of technology, comes the access to more raw material (especially online). In the past, one was unable to dig up footage of a candidate contradicting himself (although it may have been recorded in a newspaper or other writing), but now almost everything ever recorded in any way can be found online. But while this may be true, Boler, as well as many of the other authors presented in the book, note that just because the information is available does NOT mean everyone has access to it. I think we often take our access to the Internet for granted and forget that a significant amount of the population does not have immediate access to everything available. Because of this, many people rely on traditional media (television, radio, newspapers) in order to gather information about what is happening outside of their home. The dangers of having only traditional means of access to information is that it is more “controlled.” Living in a world of spin, the idea of Truthiness is becoming more of a reality, and it is becoming more difficult to determine the biases of those who put out the news.
The introduction, overall, seems to set up a book filled with optimistic and pessimistic views of the current system, and I’d go as far as to say that it makes an attempt at balancing itself, but everything must be taken with a grain of salt, even a book telling you to do that very thing.
The most powerful message is the one of promoting accuracy.Hassan Ibrahim is quoted as saying “if you have a credible news outlet, people believe you and what you say is gospel truth. And if you get it wrong, then people get it wrong.” I’m up at 4 am and I have Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter open. Earlier today (yesterday), I saw a tweet from Wil Wheaton, a person with almost 2 million followers, that said Netflix had formed a Super PAC to support SOPA/PIPA:
I didn’t pay much attention to the tweet, thinking I’d look into it when I had time, but I definitely did not question it. I thought it was a bad move, but meh. Sometimes companies make bad decisions. Later, I got on Reddit and read an article that said completely the opposite, and I went back to check Wheaton’s feed.
While he corrected himself, I had not seen the second feed on my feed until I went back specifically to look at the original.
Maybe Twitter isn’t what we would traditionally call a reliable news source, but the number of retweets and favorites for the first tweet outnumber the one correcting it (at least at 5am today). This reflects exactly what the article is warning about, and this isn’t even an extreme case. It’s a bit much to expect your average Joe (be he famous or not) to be an accurate reporter of the news because he doesn’t have fact checkers, and this is where traditional media outlets excel, or at least where they should in theory.
We keep looking towards technology to be our savior, but having access to information isn’t helpful if we don’t know how to sift through it, and this is where the media should be helping us. Unfortunately, many have agendas or a desire to appeal to certain audiences that hinder the spread of what I would call “good news.”
(P.S. My Google Doc Link for my final project first draft will be found HERE soon…hopefully)